At present, residential food consumption is not only the main driver of global energy expenditure but also a crucial factor shaping the development of the agri-food system. It is guided by the macro-food paradigm and serves as a cornerstone for ensuring comprehensive food security. This study examines both direct and indirect carbon emissions stemming from urban and rural food consumption in China between 2000 and 2021, employing a life cycle perspective. The research also delves into the associated factors influencing these emissions. Through the utilization of the LMDI (Logarithmic Mean Divisia Index) decomposition method, the study estimates the contributory significance of total carbon emissions attributed to residents' food consumption. Furthermore, the investigation undertakes an in-depth analysis of the disparities in the compositional makeup of food consumption among urban and rural populations, along with an exploration of the pertinent driving forces behind these distinctions. The study's outcomes indicate that, overall, there is a reduction in per capita direct carbon emissions, accompanied by a corresponding rise in per capita indirect carbon emissions. Relative to the index of plant-based food consumption, both the carbon emissions associated with, and the proportion of animal-based food consumption exhibited an ascending trend. The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions stemming from the dietary patterns of urban inhabitants notably surpass those attributed to their rural counterparts, with a discernible and widening disparity between the two cohorts. Within the context of the life cycle analysis, consumption and production serve as pivotal components of the intricate network of indirect carbon emissions. Notably, the proportion of carbon emissions attributed to urban residents surpasses that of their rural counterparts in both the domains of food production and the subsequent phases of processing and transportation. Owing to the irrational configuration of cooking energy utilization among rural inhabitants, direct carbon emissions within the food consumption continuum, as well as carbon emissions derived from cooking energy usage, surpass corresponding metrics among urban dwellers. This discrepancy can be attributed to the unsystematic nature of the cooking energy framework prevalent in rural contexts. Population growth, per capita food consumption and changes in the structure of food consumption are important factors driving the growth of total food carbon emissions. Within this context, an augmentation in the intake of vegetables, alongside desiccated fruits, and vegetables, exhibits the potential to notably curtail carbon emissions emanating from the dietary practices of rural denizens. Similarly, an elevation in egg consumption emerges as a key determinant in substantially mitigating the carbon emissions stemming from the dietary patterns observed among urban inhabitants. The carbon emissions originating from both animal-based and plant-based food consumption among urban and rural populations are substantially influenced by the intricate interplay of factors such as the demographic composition and the per capita disposable income within both these strata of society.

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